Tired of seeing dirty water pool around your ankles while you shower? Or maybe you’re sick of watching toothpaste-laden water back up into your bathroom sink when you brush your teeth? You’re definitely not alone. Slow drains are a pain, but the good news is, they’re often relatively easy to fix.
At Drain Blaster Bill’s Sewer & Drain Cleaning, we’re here to help you keep your drains flowing freely. While we specialize in comprehensive drain cleaning for residential and commercial Twin Cities properties, we also know professional service isn’t always necessary to resolve slow drainage. You may be able to restore proper flow on your own with a few things you may already have around the house.
Here are six tips you can try to fix a slow drain.
1. Break Out the Plunger
If you thought plungers were just for toilets, think again. A simple plunging can often resolve minor drain clogs in any of your home’s drains, so if you’re dealing with unusually slow drainage, plunging should be your first course of action.
Ideally, though, you should have a dedicated plunger for your toilet, as well as one for your showers, tubs, and sinks.
Here’s how to use a cup-style plunger to unclog your household drains (the ones that aren’t attached to your toilet):
● If you’re preparing to plunge a drain with an overflow opening, you must block that opening to create a closed system. If you leave the overflow drain open, no amount of plunging will resolve the problem.
● After you’ve blocked the overflow opening, position the plunger in the appropriate location. Position the outer ring of the plunger base so that it completely encloses the drain and seals off the opening.
● Run a small amount of water in the sink, shower, or tub — just enough to cover the cup of the plunger.
● Forcefully thrust the plunger in controlled, upward and downward motions, ensuring the seal between the drain surface and the plunger’s cup does not break. Repeat the up-and-down motion approximately six to 10 times before testing the pipe’s drainage.
● To test the drain, remove the plunger and observe how quickly the water moves through the drain. If drainage still looks slower than normal, repeat the plunging process until the clog clears.
If you can’t clear it, you may have a more serious problem like a backed-up septic system or sewer line, which requires prompt, professional attention. Call a drain cleaning specialist asap to schedule a drain camera inspection, which will identify the source of the clog.
2. Pour Boiling Water Into the Drain
This drain-clearing hack is perhaps the easiest of them all: Simply pour a few cups of boiling water down your clogged drain to loosen the debris that forms the drain clog. Then test water flow with the faucet.
This hack can be particularly effective for slow kitchen sink drains because clogs typically consist of grease and food particles. It may also work on slow shower or tub drains that contain oily buildup or lots of soap scum from body and hair care products.
However, if you have porcelain sinks, boiling water can cause cracks, so err on the side of caution and avoid using this method. Obviously, boiling water can also present a safety hazard, so if you want to try this tip, exercise extreme care.
3. Pour Vinegar and Baking Soda Down the Drain
Remember those vinegar and baking soda volcano science experiments you did in middle school? Bet you never thought they’d serve a real-life purpose, did you? Well, surprise! Here’s your chance to reunite with your younger self and put your seventh-grade science project smarts to good use.
When combined, baking soda and vinegar can fix a slow-down in any of your household drains that don’t contain standing water. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
● Allow water to drain completely from the basin.
● Add ½ cup of baking soda to the drain.
● Pour ½ cup of white vinegar down the drain.
● Let the baking soda and vinegar sit for at least one hour to allow the two substances to react. The chemical reaction produces carbon dioxide, which bubbles through debris and helps loosen buildup within the drain.
● After allowing the mixture to react for at least one hour, pour a pot of boiling water into the drain to clear away the remaining residue.
● If the process was only marginally effective, try repeating the above steps.
If your drain continues moving slowly after two baking soda and vinegar applications, you may be dealing with a more serious drain clog. To restore proper drain function, your drain most likely requires advanced, professional drain cleaning techniques.
4. Use Soap and Boiling Water
Surprisingly, liquid soap — particularly dish soap and laundry detergent — can help clear minor drain clogs by dissolving oily particles that clog up the pipe. The soap breaks down oils and suspends the particles in water, which then allows debris to pass through freely.
For fat-based clogs, like those in your kitchen sink drain, grease-cutting dish soap is your best bet for clearing blockages. Shower, tub, bathroom sink drains
To get started, run hot water down the drain, which will help soften any buildup within the pipe. Next, pour one-half cup of soap into the drain. Follow that up with several ounces of boiling water, poured directly down the drain.
Essentially, this method works just like washing greasy dishes. The soap dissolves grease, and the hot water then washes it down the pipe.
5. Suck Out Drain Debris With a Wet-Dry Vac
If flushing the drain doesn’t get things moving again, a shop vac might just do the trick. Since this heavy-duty tool can handle both dry and wet materials, it may be able to suck out anything that’s slowing down water flow.
However, the offending clog must be located relatively close to the drain opening for this to work because a vacuum’s suction power only goes so far.
If you have a shop vac and want to give this tip a try, here’s what you’ll need to do:
● Remove the drain’s stopper, as well as any standing water in the sink.
● Insert the shop vac’s hose nozzle into the drain opening.
● Use washcloths or a towel to seal off any open space between the drain opening and the edges of the vacuum nozzle. You’ll need an airtight connection for the suction to work.
● Turn the vacuum on, using exhaust mode to start. Pay attention to what the suction sounds like — you should hear a high-pitched noise at first, which should change as the clog loosens.
● If you don’t hear a change in pitch after about 15 seconds, flip the vacuum to suction mode and quickly switch it back to exhaust mode. Doing this will create a plunger-like effect that’s much more powerful than an actual plunger.
Be aware that this particular drain-clearing technique can be quite messy. The vacuum’s powerful suction often causes gunk within the drain to blow backward, so keep a few old towels handy for cleanup, just in case.
6. Examine the Pipe
All drains have a u-shaped bend called a p-trap. This trap is designed to hold a small amount of water at all times, which helps prevent drain odors from infiltrating your home. But because of its shape, a p-trap can easily become clogged with solid debris. When that happens, slow drainage is inevitable.
If you’re dealing with a slow-draining kitchen or bathroom sink, the drain’s p-trap should be located directly beneath the sink. To access it, simply open your under-sink cupboard and look for the pipe’s u-shaped curve. That section should be detachable, so you can remove it and examine the interior of the pipe for debris.
Before you get started, be sure to place a bucket beneath the pipe you plan to detach. When you unscrew the nut or connector that holds the pipe together, dirty water and backed-up, slimy debris will likely come rushing out.
Get a Free Drain Cleaning Estimate from Drain Blaster Bill
At Drain Blaster Bill’s Sewer and Drain Cleaning, our team is dedicated to delivering the highest-quality, most comprehensive drain cleaning in the Twin Cities metro area. Whether you’ve got a single backed-up drain or have a more serious sewer drain clog, we have the tools, techniques, and experience to tackle even the toughest drain clogs.
To learn more about our drain cleaning services or schedule an appointment, give us a call at 763-913-8719. You can also request a free estimate online, and we’ll get in touch with more information.